The question I have been asked most in person the past 5 days is “Did you like the movie?” (YES!). The second most popular question is “Can I take my child to see it?”. I am assuming that anyone reading this blog is going to see the movie – so need to convince you of that 🙂 BUT, I wanted to address the issue about whether or not to take your kids. (No real spoilers ahead, but I do describe few scenes, so you know when to cover your child’s eyes)
Our opening night viewing was “adults only” for two reasons – it was a late showing, and we wanted to pre-screen it for the kids in case there was something really scary. Then over the weekend, a bunch of us went again, this time with kids (ranging from 4 to 12) in tow. I have divided up the post in 2 parts, why I think you SHOULD take your kids (The Awesome Parts), and what parts might me questionable for kids (The Scary Parts, toward the end of the post)
The Awesome Part:
It is funny, action packed, and thrilling, and most kids will really enjoy it, and I truly think this is the best family movies to come out in years – right up there with the best of Pixar (though this is for slightly older kids)! All the older kids with us LOVED it. The almost 4 year-old, got bored after about 90 min – but that was much more a function of having to sit still than a statement about the movie.
But being fun, is not why I think you should take your child to see it – the main reason is: Rey!
People are complaining that this installment is not as groundbreaking as the previous Star Wars movies. (Even the prequels were trailblazing: Lucas did things with CGI that had never been done before, things that are now industry standards.) Well, these people are totally wrong. The Force Awakens does something that is just not done in movies: It puts an intelligent, smart, capable woman (who is NOT in high heels) into an action lead, and she gets to kick butt all the way through. Think about this for a while before you continue reading…
There are lots and lots of female sidekicks and supporting characters (though usually they have to be rescued at some point). There are even a few movies where there is a female lead (Cat Woman? Tombraider?) – but those contain terribly warped versions of what a female should look like and how to behave… and all that in high heels. The Force Awakens in contrast, is high-octane, 2 hours of kick-butt, funny awesomeness where the heroine just happens to be a female.
The hubby saw A New Hope in the theaters when he was 9. He like, lots of boys wanted to be Luke, and they played with the action figures, and flew the ships. Kids learn by emulating, and many boys who fell in love with the movie grew up to be scientists, explorers, pilots, and astronauts.
Now, we got to take our almost 9-year-old daughter to see The Force Awakens. She got to see Rey-the-coolest-pilot-in-the-Galaxy-and-all-around-kick-ass-awesome-heroine (I’m trying not to give spoilers here!) And now, there will be a generation of girls who can see themselves as the hero, just like the boys did almost 40 years ago.
And, because this is a Star Wars movie (and not an “empowering girl” movie, like that Barbie movies) all the brothers, and male school mates are going to see the same thing. Boys and girls alike, will be playing with the Rey and Finn dolls, just like they will play with their Poe and Kylo Ren dolls. This multi-racial, diverse set of characters will become a natural part of their play-acting. And I am hoping that when all our kids grow up, it will be a given that ANYONE can grow up to be a scientist, explorer, pilot, or astronaut.
More immediately, I have a New Hope that no one at my #1’s school will ever again tell her that Star Wars is only for boys! Or that “girls” don’t like action, or “girls” only play with Barbies. I and hope that when the next action movie is cast, the studio will remember that a female-lead movie, is not only “palatable” for a general audience, but that it can be so popular that is breaks all records in its path.
I know that hoping one movie will change society in such a way, may be asking a bit much. But judging from how much the original Star Wars changed how were think about ourselves, and how movies are made – I am hoping this one might too.
The Scary Parts:
Our oldest has seen all the other movies, though we fast forwarded the Anakin’s rampage in the Jedi temple in Revenge of the Sith (for obvious reasons), and she (by her own choice) filtered out part of the climactic “fighting in the volcano” scene in that same movie. The little guy has seen most of all 6 movies, but we cover his eyes for things we think are too scary for him.
Compared to the other movies, I think The Force Awakens has about the same level of scariness, and is appropriate for most kids kindergarten-aged and older. So the bottom line is, if your kids have seen the other Star Wars movies, YES, this is absolutely appropriate. Read the list below for specifics:
We covered our almost 4-year-old son’s eyes for 2 scenes:
(again, no real spoilers ahead, but read at your own risk…)
– The fighting scene in the village. Once the Stormtroopers open fire, it gets a bit intense. Like all the other Star Wars movies, the violence is “cartoon violence” – there is shooting and death, but no gore. There is one scene with a little bit of blood, but it is not too scary. There are 2 particularly scary parts in this scene, and you’ll get a bit of a warning before they occur.
– Kylo Ren on the catwalk, inside the Star Killer Planet. You’ll know when its time to cover your kids eyes!
Our almost 9-year-old daughter always covers her face and watches through her fingers when she thinks anything scary is coming up. We decided she was old enough to see anything that happens in the movie, so we let her self-filter (with a couple of FYIs from us when we got to the scenes mentioned above). Here are the other scenes she “filtered” …
– The “torture” scenes. (They seem like they might get scary, but they don’t get bad)
– All lightsaber fights. (They are about par with all the other movies)
– All First Order attacks and war scenes. (These are also about the same as all other movies)
– And, just like the other Star Wars movies, there is death depicted in several scenes, and you should expect to talk to you child about it.
Of course each child is different If you are unsure of how your child might react, you should watch the movie first.
If there are additional scenes that concern you or troubled your child, please share them with us, so people can read them in the comment section.